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Introduction to Firefox, part 2, tabbing and basic functions

Before we get started

OK, so before we get started with tabbing and so on, we have to say something about accessing menus.  On Windows and Linux, the menubar may be hidden.  Try hitting F10..  if a menu appears towards the top of the window with the File drop-down open, there you have the menu.  If it only opens the File menu drop-down, the menu is already there, ready to use.  On Mac systems, the menubar should always be available in the top of the screen.  Make a mental note of that, and lets proceed.  :)

The tabbing function

Now, this is one of the best features of Mozilla Firefox. Almost all of my time online I need to have many browser windows open at the same time, and honestly, it can get quite messy sometimes. Mozilla Firefox has however added a very helpful function to the browser, called tabbing.  (Editors note: Now this article was written initially a long time ago, so tabbing is common today and here is some history.)

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser, and then press "Ctrl-T" ("⌘-T" on Mac). Your browser will now open a new tab that can be used, in the same browser window.


Firefox with 2 tabs open


As you see by pressing "Ctrl-T" ("⌘-T" on Mac) I now have 2 tabs in the same browser. :) You can alternate between these by pressing "Ctrl-Tab" (same on Mac, "⌘-Tab" alternates between applications). If you need more browsing tabs simply press "Ctrl-T" ("⌘-T" on Mac) again.

Now, let's look at little bit at the top of that browser window, for commonly used input boxes and buttons:


Firefox window with two open tabs and highlighted features


In the upper left corner, there is a (most often yellow but could be black) Firefox button, clicking on it gives access to commonly used settings, options, add-ons and other things.  If you don't have that button don't worry, you should have a menu bar there instead, which looks something like this:


Firefox standard file, edit etc. menu


If you don't see a menubar or Firefox button, remember what was said in the start of this article, try hitting the F10 button (on Windows and Linux).  On Macs for example, the menu should always be available at the top of the screen.

That menubar can be used to access settings, do copy/paste and a lot of other things.  But back to the image above the menubar..  a bit down to the left there is a left arrow and the text "Go to a website".  In other words, if you want to go to a website by address, type for example in that box and press enter.  Then you'll go to the most popular social website that exists today.  When you go to that website, the color of the leftward arrow should change as well, and then you might get an idea of what it does, it lets you go back to the place you were before.

OK, so that's the address bar and the back button.  A little bit down to the right, there is a Google search box (by the magnifying glass).  If you want to search for something but don't know quite where, for example an article about Firefox, try typing "firefox introduction nidelven it" in the Google search box (without the quotation marks) and press enter.  Our website should be the first result on Google.

Now, if you've done some browsing you may have your routine, standard sites to visit etc.  With tabs, the process of getting started with browsing can be greatly simplified..  Open up all the usual sites you visit in different tabs. Hold down the Alt key, and first press on T, then O, ("⌘-," on Mac, that's a comma) and you should get the following screen (if you don't, try going to the Edit drop-down menu and select "settings" there.  If the Edit drop-down isn't available, press F10 and menus should become available):


Tools to Options and General screen


I've already clicked on the "Use current pages"-button, do the same and then click on OK, and close down Firefox and start it up again.  Voila, all your favorite websites up in different tabs.  :)

There are more things that can be done with tabs, try right-clicking on a tab (Ctrl-click on Mac) and you will get something like this:


Firefox with tab options open


There are various options there, the most useful (for me anyway) function there is to undo the closing of a tab.  Useful if you're entering a lot of information into one tab and accidentally close it before it got saved. ;)  The rest of the options are pretty self-explanatory but try to click on a tab and hold the mouse button down while you move it sideways or even tear the tab into a new window.

OK, enough about tabbing, onto new commonly useful features.

Basic functions, commands and how to deal with pop-ups

With a flexible application like Mozilla Firefox, it's important you know your way around with the keyboard and the mouse. In this part of the article I will talk about some basic commands, where to find them and how to keep things efficient. In addition I will talk a bit about blocking popups.

The mouse

Many of us prefer to use the mouse when we navigate in a web browser, you can by right-clicking over a certain area get a variety of options. Use your mouse and right click and you will see different options for different areas of the browser.

The keyboard commands

If you're fan of your keyboard, there are a few basic commands you should know:

  • Ctrl+N (⌘+N on Mac) - Opens a new browser window.
  • Ctrl+T (⌘-T on Mac) - Opens a new "Tab" window in the browser, try it. ;)
  • Ctr+O (⌘-O on Mac) - Open a file.
  • Ctrl+W (⌘-W on Mac) - Close a "Tab" window in the browser.
  • Ctrl+Shift+W (⌘-Shift-W on Mac) - Close window.
  • Ctrl+R (⌘-R on Mac) - Refresh window.


These are some of the basic commands you can use, in addition there are some more, you can view all of these commands in the drop down menus under File, Edit and View. For a more complete listing of shortcuts, see

Dealing with pop-ups

Back in the day, pop-ups were a real annoyance and had some questionable uses for generating advertisement revenue.  These days people don't even talk much about pop-ups, the browsers have gotten so good that people (me included) rarely have to deal with them.

Nonetheless, it is probably something you'll run into now and then, so here's how to deal with them:  Go to the following page to get a page that displays pop-ups for testing purposes, and your browser should look something like this:

Firefox pop-up notification


Click on the Options button to get the options for pop-ups on the page you're on.  Banks displaying invoices in a pop-up is a typical example of modern pop-up usage.

This is the second article in a series about Firefox, if you have Firefox-related topics you want covered here, let us know. Comments on this article, thumbs up or flames, can be sent to If you need help using Firefox, we recommend using the Firefox forums.

If you know a language or languages besides English and would like to translate these articles, let us know via as well. :)

Or just go on to the next article, downloads and browsing history. :)